Advice on Adder Bites
Statistically you have more chance of being killed by a wasp than dying from a strike from Britain’s only venomous snake. The last death from an Adder bite in the UK was in 1975, when a five-year-old boy was bitten. This was in the Trossachs in Scotland. In this article we intend to give you some advice on Adder bites.
Adders do bite people from time to time; if you get bitten most importantly, don’t panic. If bitten keep calm: with little exertions there is no movement to pump venom around the blood system and towards the heart.
Most ‘traditional’ first-aid techniques do more harm than good; cutting into the wound is harmful and why would you want to suck up the poisoned blood and put poison into your own system? Tourniquets are dangerous. The suction and electrical inactivation devices you may have seen have no evidence showing they work effectively.
The key advice would be to stay calm; it is likely that little venom has actually been dispensed. The area of the bite should be washed to remove any venom from the skin. Keep the bitten limb below the heart height to slow spread of any venom. You might put a ‘cold compress’ on the bite site but do not apply ice packs.
It is likely the bite will be painful, cause swelling and distress. However as long as the casualty doesn’t have an underlying health problem they should be OK. Let the casualty take their time, after an initial period of 20-30 minutes the casualty may stand slowly and start to walk out with support and head for the nearest A&E Department.
If the casualty was a child and not an adult there would be more concerns. Their smaller body weight means any toxins would have a greater effect so it would be recommended that you call 999/112 straight away.